Preparation of Pyrolysis Reference Samples: Evaluation of a Standard Method Using a Tube Furnace


  • P. Mark L. Sandercock Ph.D.

    1. Trace Evidence Services, National Centre for Forensic Services - Alberta, Royal Canadian Mounted Police, 15707 - 118 Avenue, Edmonton, AB T5V 1B7, Canada
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P. Mark L. Sandercock, Ph.D.
Trace Evidence Services
National Centre for Forensic Services - Alberta
Royal Canadian Mounted Police
15707 – 118 Avenue
Edmonton, AB T5V 1B7


Abstract:  A new, simple method for the reproducible creation of pyrolysis products from different materials that may be found at a fire scene is described. A temperature programmable steady-state tube furnace was used to generate pyrolysis products from different substrates, including softwoods, paper, vinyl sheet flooring, and carpet. The temperature profile of the tube furnace was characterized, and the suitability of the method to reproducibly create pyrolysates similar to those found in real fire debris was assessed. The use of this method to create proficiency tests to realistically test an examiner’s ability to interpret complex gas chromatograph–mass spectrometric fire debris data, and to create a library of pyrolsates generated from materials commonly found at a fire scene, is demonstrated.